Today’s potentially ‘true’ statement is sneaky. Sneaky I tell you.
“I struggle with this sin because of events outside of my control.”
Let me give you some hypothetical examples based on a *friend* of mine…
‘I struggle with fear of abandonment because my dad left when I was younger’
‘I struggle with lust because I’m single’
‘I am the way I am because of the way my parents raised me’
Now, before you freak out, let me clearly say: these things might be true. Things that happened to us in our past may shape and effect the things we do today. However, we must be careful that these potentially true statements do not distract from the real biblical truth. The bible describes the origin of EVERY sin we commit and presents a very clear TRUTH:
‘I struggle with sin because every intention of my heart is only evil continually.’
Sin does not begin externally. It begins internally. Circumstances and situations may aggravate and trigger our sin, but the sin in rooted and born in our hearts.
Girls who lost their dads at a young age typically struggle with finding their worth in men, but they certainly aren’t the only people in this world who struggle with insecurity. Their circumstances may have shaped the external symptoms of that insecurity, but these circumstances didn’t create their sin. James is clear that our sin comes when we are lured and tempted by desires that we have; we give those desires more worth than the desires of God.
The potentially ‘true’ statements above may be actually true for your life, but dwelling on them instead of the truth will render you ineffective in fighting sin. Why? Because step one is repentance. and until you own responsibility for your heart and sin you cannot truly repent.
Tim Chester in his book You Can Change points out that the main reason that you and I continue in our sin is because we excuse or minimize our sin. We don’t fight our failings because we blame others for them; we let potentially true statements help us avoid the truth.
When I focus on how the sins of others or how events outside my control have contributed to the sin tendencies I see in my life, I slowly but surely shift the blame off myself and onto them. I become bitter, frustrated; I become a victim of sin rather than a perpetrator, and while I may have been a victim at one time or another, I have always been a perpetrator. If I focus on these potentially ‘true’ statements rather than the truth I may find myself standing before the Holy and perfect God of the universe explaining away my sin, blaming events or people or hormones rather than finding myself on my face, proclaiming: ‘be merciful to me, a sinner.’
The great news of the gospel is that I can look at my sin smack in the face. I can name it worse than I ever imagined. I can take full responsibility and forgive anyone whose sinned against me – knowing that the birth place of evil in the world is inside my heart. I can do all these things without once feeling discouraged, afraid, inadequate or guilty. I don’t have to feel ashamed or beaten down. Because my sin doesn’t affect my identity. It doesn’t make me feel worthless because my worth isn’t found in my own purity; it’s found in Christ’s.
Sin is the lens through which I see the gospel. A personal responsibility and awareness of the darkness of my heart doesn’t leave me feeling hopeless it leaves me feeling filled with worship: God’s grace is greater. Show me just how black my heart is and I’ll show you the brightness of God’s light. I’m not afraid of my sin. To be afraid, ashamed, guilty would be a proclamation that the blood of Christ isn’t quite mighty enough to wash a sinner like me clean.
I will boast in my weakness. I will claim responsibility for all my sin. So that in me – the worst of sinners – Christ’s grace might be most clearly displayed.